tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/digital-strategy Latest Digital Strategy content from Econsultancy 2017-04-20T15:00:00+01:00 tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69006 2017-04-20T15:00:00+01:00 2017-04-20T15:00:00+01:00 What publishers and advertisers need to know about Princeton and Stanford's new super ad blocker Patricio Robles <h4>1. It uses "perceptual ad blocking"</h4> <p>Most ad blockers in use today look for the footprints of digital ads. For example, they scan the contents of a page, identifying snippets of code and URLs that are commonly associated with ads and ad networks. This approach is very effective at blocking ads served by major ad players like Google, but it's far less effective at weeding out ads that are served by publishers themselves, including native ads.</p> <p>The university researchers' ad blocker uses computer vision technology to analyze the contents of a web page much the same way a human would. As Vice's Jason Koebler <a href="https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/princetons-ad-blocking-superweapon-may-put-an-end-to-the-ad-blocking-arms-race">explained</a>...</p> <blockquote> <p>...it uses optical character recognition, design techniques, and container searches (the boxes that ads are commonly put in on a page) to detect words like "sponsored" or "close ad" that are required to appear on every ad, which is what allows it to detect and block Facebook ads.</p> </blockquote> <h4>2. It could be 100% effective at blocking ads</h4> <p><a href="http://randomwalker.info/publications/ad-blocking-framework-techniques.pdf">According to</a> a paper published by the Princeton and Stanford researchers who created the new ad blocker, so long as advertisers and publishers adhere to the disclosure standards promulgated by regulatory agencies like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), "a perceptual ad blocker will have a 100% recall at identifying ads governed by that standard."</p> <h4>3. The ad blocker is difficult if not impossible to detect</h4> <p>The new computer vision-based approach allows the Princeton and Stanford ad blocker to more stealthily block ads by taking advantage of techniques normally employed by malware. In fact, when tested on 50 websites employing anti ad-blocking scripts, the university's ad blocker was able to block ads without being detected 100% of the time. </p> <p>Because it stealthily blocks ads, the super ad blocker is able to avoid detection by <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66606-here-come-the-ad-blocker-blockers">anti ad-blocking techniques</a> that publishers commonly use to thwart users who browse their sites with ad blockers.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/1281/netflixad.png" alt="" width="590" height="226"></p> <p>That's obviously not going to be good news for the growing number of publishers that are using anti ad-blockers to cut off access to people using the technology, and could encourage some of them to erect more restrictive paywalls.</p> <h4>4. The technology is currently available in a proof-of-concept that doesn't block ads</h4> <p>While it's probably only a matter of time before perceptual ad blocking technology makes its full debut, for now, the Princeton and Stanford researchers decided to release a limited proof-of-concept in the form of <a href="https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/perceptual-ad-blocker/mahgiflleahghaapkboihnbhdplhnchp?hl=en">a Chrome extension</a> that doesn't actually block ads. Instead, the extension highlights the ads it identifies.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5479/adblocker.png" alt="" width="644" height="404"></p> <h4>5. Perceptual ad blocking isn't the only new approach to ad blocking that could have a big impact</h4> <p>While it would appear that perceptual ad blocking has the potential to end the ad blocking wars, handing victory to consumers and defeat to publishers and advertisers, this new approach to ad blocking isn't the only one that publishers and advertisers need to worry about. </p> <p>In a paper detailing their perceptual ad blocking tech, the Princeton and Stanford researchers also presented another technique that could make ad blocking more effective. Under this approach, a browser extension would create two copies of a page, blocking ads in the one displayed to users. The end result would be that publishers would again have no way to identify users who are blocking ads.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69009 2017-04-20T11:31:51+01:00 2017-04-20T11:31:51+01:00 Can Wells Fargo's new brand platform help it restore consumer trust? Patricio Robles <p>Wells Fargo recently revealed that new checking account openings have dropped by 43% year-on-year and new credit card applications have plunged by an even greater amount – 55%.</p> <p>According to some observers, dealing with the fallout from this scandal represents perhaps the biggest challenge the bank has faced since it was founded in 1852. Ironically, the scandal could have been avoided if the company had heeded the advice of its largest shareholder, Warren Buffett. The legendary investor famously once stated, "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently."</p> <p>Now faced with the task of rebuilding its reputation, Wells Fargo <a href="https://stories.wf.com/new-brand-platform-wells-fargo-building-better-company-every-day/">has unveiled</a> a new brand platform dubbed Building Better Every Day.</p> <p>According to Jamie Moldafsky, Wells Fargo's CMO, "Our research clearly shows our customers are ready to hear a different message from us, and the 'Building Better Every Day' platform behind this advertising came directly from the research results. In addition to showing our customers how we are building a better bank – fixing things, and making them right – this effort is focused on how we are helping customers achieve their financial goals."</p> <p>The Building Better Every Day platform will rely on marketing across virtually all channels, including digital, television, print, radio and billboard. It aims to highlight how Wells Fargo is helping customers through "customer-centric" technological innovation, guidance and personalized service, security and community involvement.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WJGAO63-IKs?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>Phil Wang, a marketing manager who was involved in the platform's development, says that the ads will focus a lot on interactions between Wells Fargo and its customers. "Team members are front and center in these spots, and portrayed as helping customers in a way that's in keeping with our vision and values."</p> <p>To hammer home the bank's commitment to the diverse communities it has a presence in, Wells Fargo is even creating ads for specific audiences in other languages, including Mandarin, Cantonese and Spanish.</p> <h4>All of this sounds like a textbook plan from a marketing perspective, but will Wells Fargo's new brand platform really heal the damage caused by its scandal?</h4> <p>There are reasons to be skeptical because not only was the scandal itself really, really ugly in nature, the timing couldn't have been worse for the banking behemoth.</p> <p>First, big banks are among consumers' least favorite institutions today thanks in large part to the financial crisis of 2008, which was widely blamed on out-of-control financial institutions. While Wells Fargo had the most pristine reputation of any big bank following the crisis, having emerged from the Great Recession largely unscathed, the unauthorized account scandal plays right into Wall Street critics' argument that big banks are out of control and simply can't be trusted. </p> <p>Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, banks find themselves under attack from fintech startups that are attempting <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68159-five-ways-fintech-upstarts-are-disrupting-established-financial-institutions/">to disrupt</a> their business models. From consumer, business and mortgage lending to brokerage services and everything in between, many of the financial services that consumers used to obtain from the bank where they kept their checking and savings accounts are increasingly acquired through standalone non-bank service providers in an unbundled fashion. By some estimates, this <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68981-could-established-financial-services-firms-lose-a-quarter-of-their-revenue-to-fintechs/">could soon cost established financial institutions a quarter of their revenue</a>.</p> <p>In fact, that Wells Fargo employees were opening unauthorized accounts to meet aggressive sales quotas hints that it is increasingly difficult for banks to successfully cross-sell to their customers <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68334-wells-fargo-scandal-shows-why-banks-are-vulnerable-to-fintech-startups/">in the age of unbundling</a>. </p> <p>Unfortunately for Wells Fargo, the damage caused by the actions of thousands of its employees probably won't be undone with a new brand platform and an aggressive and expensive marketing campaign. While it's not too soon for the bank to start employing marketing in an effort to re-engage consumers, ultimately Wells Fargo will probably have to accept that the old Buffett nugget of wisdom is pretty accurate.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:Report/4457 2017-04-19T09:00:00+01:00 2017-04-19T09:00:00+01:00 Email Marketing Industry Census 2017 <p>The 11th annual <strong>Email Marketing Industry Census</strong>, published in partnership with <a href="http://www.adestra.com">Adestra</a>, is based on the largest UK survey of email marketers.</p> <p>The census takes an in-depth look at email practices being adopted, the resources being dedicated to email and the channel's effectiveness compared to other types of marketing.</p> <p>Personalisation, marketing automation, optimisation for different devices and the future of email are all themes that are revisited in this year's Census, and there are also new questions about the <strong>use of metrics</strong>, the <strong>application of artificial intelligence</strong> and the <strong>impact of Brexit</strong> on how companies are approaching the <strong>EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)</strong>.</p> <p>With <strong>11 years' worth of data to assess</strong>, this provides an unparalleled opportunity to measure the state of the industry and find out how those at the coalface of email marketing are operating.</p> <p>Over 1,000 respondents took part in the 2017 Census, which took the form of an online survey in February and March 2017.</p> <h2>What you'll learn</h2> <ul> <li>Find out how a variety of trends around email practices, budgets and opinions have changed over 11 years.</li> <li>Discover other marketers' opinions on what the future of email will look like.</li> <li>Benchmark your own practices with the activities of marketers maximising their email efforts.</li> <li>Understand the challenges organisations are facing in improving their email capabilities.</li> </ul> <h2>Key findings from the report</h2> <ul> <li>Marketers get to grips with automation, helped by improved technology</li> <li>Email reigns supreme when it comes to delivering ROI, though companies must do more to measure success</li> <li>Companies are still under-investing in a channel which drove an estimated £29bn in UK online retail sales in 2016</li> <li>Companies continue to adapt to consumer use of different devices</li> <li>True personalisation at scale remains elusive for many businesses, though more companies are starting to reap the benefits</li> <li>Census shows signs of inertia and lack of understanding around EU data law changes</li> <li>Segmentation continues to deliver</li> <li>Responsibility for email shifts from the individual to the team</li> <li>Artificial intelligence can improve email marketing performance</li> </ul> <h2>Expert insight</h2> <p>The <strong>80-page</strong> 2017 report contains insight and comment from leading experts in the email marketing world and associated digital sectors, including:</p> <ul> <li>Andrew Campbell, Martech Director, First 10</li> <li>Chris Combemale, Group CEO, DMA</li> <li>Riaz Kanani, Joint MD and Co-Founder, Radiate b2b</li> <li>Dave Littlechild, Email, Ecommerce and Sales &amp; Marketing Consultant</li> <li>Kath Pay, Founder and Senior Consultant, Holistic Email Marketing</li> <li>Jordie van Rijn, eCRM and Email Marketing Consultant, eMailMonday</li> <li>Philip Storey, Email Marketing and CRM Strategy Consultant, CEO at Enchant Agency</li> <li>Tim Watson, Email Marketing Consultant, Zettasphere</li> </ul> <h2>Features of the report</h2> <ul> <li>Approach to email</li> <li>Email effectiveness</li> <li>Place in the organisation</li> <li>Optimising for different devices</li> <li>Personalisation</li> <li>Marketing automation</li> <li>Improving email marketing for the future</li> </ul> <p><strong>You can download a free sample of the report to learn more.</strong></p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68981 2017-04-11T15:00:00+01:00 2017-04-11T15:00:00+01:00 Could established financial services firms lose a quarter of their revenue to fintechs? Patricio Robles <p>If that came to pass, it would represent a major upheaval in the financial services market and could force many of them to make drastic changes, including potential mass layoffs.</p> <p>Of the executives PwC surveyed, 88% indicated that they believe their firms are threatened by fintech firms that offer standalone financial services. By focusing on specific segments of financial services, fintechs have in many cases been able to build better technologies and products than entrenched firms. And on top of those better technologies and products, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68159-five-ways-fintech-upstarts-are-disrupting-established-financial-institutions/">many are delivering better overall experiences than established firms</a>.</p> <p>That has encouraged consumers to "unbundle" the financial services they purchase, making the days of giving all their business to one or two companies, such as a national or regional bank, a thing of the past.</p> <p>Segments of the financial services industry that PwC has identified as being most vulnerable to standalone fintechs and unbundling are payments, money transfers and lending.</p> <h4>Down, not out?</h4> <p>But are established financial services firms really so vulnerable that they could lose a quarter of their revenue in the next several years? That figure is a significant one, but it's not as far-fetched as it might seem.</p> <p>For evidence that change can occur quickly in the typically slow-moving market, consider the following:</p> <ul> <li>Following its <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68334-wells-fargo-scandal-shows-why-banks-are-vulnerable-to-fintech-startups/">fake account scandal</a>, Wells Fargo, considered by many to be the best-managed big bank in the U.S. after it emerged from the Great Recession largely unscathed, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/admin/blog_posts/new/%20http:/www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2017/03/21/wells-fargo-checking-accounts-credit-cards-wfc.html">recently revealed</a> that new checking account openings have dropped by 43% year-over-year and new credit card applications have plunged by an even greater amount (55%) year-over-year.</li> <li>Non-bank lenders, many of which conduct business primarily online, <a href="http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-nonbank-lenders-20151130-story.html">have grown</a> their share of the consumer, business and mortgage loan markets substantially since the Great Recession. And their visibility among borrowers only continues to increase. For example, according to a J.D. Power study, 60% of small business owners who applied for a loan in the past 12 months considered a non-bank lender. At the fastest growing small businesses, that number increases to nearly two-thirds (74%).</li> </ul> <p>The good news for large financial services firms is that most of them clearly recognize that they are being disrupted and are taking action. 82% of the executives PwC polled indicated that the coming years would see increased partnership between their firms and fintechs, and many of their firms are investing in homegrown initiatives that could help thwart competition from fintechs.</p> <p>For example, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon recently <a href="https://econsultancy.com/admin/blog_posts/new/Upstart%20fintech%20companies%20are%20disrupting%20established%20financial%20services%20players,%20namely%20large%20banks,%20but%20just%20how%20serious%20a%20threat%20are%20these%20upstarts%20to%20firms%20that%20collectively%20control%20trillions%20of%20dollars%20of%20capital?%20%20According%20to%20a%20new%20study%20conducted%20by%20PricewaterhouseCoopers,%20which%20polled%20more%20than%201,300%20executives,%20established%20financial%20services%20firms%20could%20lose%20nearly%20a%20quarter%20(24%)%20of%20their%20revenue%20to%20fintechs%20in%20the%20next%20three%20to%20five%20years.">mentioned</a> that his firm spent more than half a billion dollars last year on "emerging fintech solutions." That's a huge amount when compared to the capital available to the average fintech, but still just a relatively small portion of the $9.5bn his firm invested in technology generally.</p> <p>But it's not clear that the abundance of capital is even beneficial to big financial services firms. Fintechs are largely succeeding by focusing on a very specific segment of the broader financial services market, building better customer experiences, and taking advantage of their ability to move in a nimble fashion. They largely don't have to worry about large legacy systems, and their priorities aren't pulled in a million different directions because they don't have a million different lines of business.</p> <p>In other words, contrary to what financial giants might be inclined to believe, older, bigger and richer can bring with it many liabilities for established institutions – liabilities that many fintechs are successfully taking advantage of.</p> <p>From this perspective, the greatest challenge large financial services firms have in addressing the fintech threat might be themselves, not the fintechs. Those that don't want to risk losing a big chunk of their revenue base would be wise to recognize that instead of trying to crush fintechs, they should try to emulate them.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68962 2017-04-06T11:03:00+01:00 2017-04-06T11:03:00+01:00 How HR professionals are adapting to the digital age Nikki Gilliland <p>Econsultancy’s <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-future-of-hr-in-the-digital-age/" target="_blank">Future of HR in the Digital Age</a> report delves into this topic, drawing on insight and knowledge from people within the industry as well as wider research.</p> <p>Here are a few key takeaways, highlighting how HR professionals are adapting to digital change.</p> <h3>Being proactive rather than reactive</h3> <p>While HR professionals are increasingly using data to gain a clearer picture of employees across organisations, it appears that this is still being done at quite a basic level – usually for diagnostic purposes such as measuring output. </p> <p>In future, it is predicted that data will play a more proactive role in HR practice, ultimately being used in predictive ways to develop greater understanding and impact for the HR function overall.</p> <h3>Following the focus on CX</h3> <p>The below chart shows that customer experience is still seen as the biggest opportunity for businesses – above and beyond other factors such as creating compelling content or data-driven marketing.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5200/CX.JPG" alt="" width="624" height="592"></p> <p>In turn, CX is also driving change in the processes, structures and practices across organisations as a whole – including HR. </p> <p>Whether it is finding ways to reinforce a collaborative culture or breaking down department barriers, the implications for HR are essentially a greater need to support cross-company collaboration and to facilitate change.</p> <h3>Improving digital literacy </h3> <p>Despite 71% of respondents in a survey saying that it is very important for business leaders to be technology-literate, just 28% said that they believe that is the case within their current organisation.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5201/Tech_literate.JPG" alt="" width="600" height="453"></p> <p>This is clearly one area that senior professionals need to work on, however it’s not just about improving technology knowledge in an operational sense.</p> <p>Rather, senior professionals need to understand the potential, integration and application of technologies, with the separation and clear distinction of these three contexts being key.</p> <h3>Recognising the employee experience</h3> <p>While CX is often cited as the main catalyst for <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68216-six-iconic-retailers-and-their-digital-transformation-journeys/" target="_blank">digital transformation</a>, many professionals are beginning to recognise that employee engagement is also a core component.</p> <p>In other words, true transformation is about more than just technical expertise and channels, or indeed marketing and CX. It is about how organisations respond appropriately to the challenges and opportunities that the digital world creates, or in other words, how they reshape the way in which teams work, collaborate and behave. </p> <h3>Evolving leadership qualities </h3> <p>Finally, HR professionals are increasingly focusing on ‘softer skills’, with a change in the perception of leadership qualities seen overall. Rather than traditional leadership qualities such as being inspirational, highly commercial and action-oriented – skills such as adaptability, flexibility, curiosity and the ability to embrace change are growing in importance.</p> <p>Of course, a mix of both soft and traditional skills remain the ideal, with knowledge and empathetic emotional intelligence truly driving organisational change. For HR professionals, the greatest challenge remains being able to find it.</p> <p><em><strong>Related reading:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68873-what-exactly-is-company-culture-and-how-can-hr-change-it/" target="_blank">What exactly is company culture? And how can HR change it?</a></em></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67976-this-is-how-you-explain-to-hr-what-digital-means/" target="_blank"><em>This is how you explain to HR what 'digital' means</em></a></li> </ul> <p><em><strong>Econsultancy subscribers can also download the full <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-future-of-hr-in-the-digital-age/" target="_blank">Future of HR in the Digital Age</a> report.</strong></em></p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68941 2017-03-31T15:00:00+01:00 2017-03-31T15:00:00+01:00 Hollywood's response to digital disruption looks like a flop Patricio Robles <p>Take the major Hollywood movie studios. <a href="http://variety.com/2017/film/news/studios-premium-vod-early-1202013205/">They are reportedly planning</a> to create premium video-on-demand offerings that would allow consumers to watch major motion pictures at home within 45 days of their theatrical releases. In some cases, films would be available to watch at home within weeks of appearing in theaters.</p> <p>There is a catch, however: the studios are reportedly planning to charge $30 to $50 a pop for the privilege.</p> <p>To be sure, there are consumers who are not attached to the Big Screen experience. Going to the movies can be an expensive proposition, especially when you throw in a couple of kids and food. Thanks to growing ownership of large, flat-screen televisions and high-end audio systems, watching a movie at home isn't so bad.</p> <p>But will consumers shell out $30 to $50 to watch a new movie at home when, for as little as $8 a month, they have access to thousands of movies on a service like Netflix? </p> <p>Lest movie studios fall into the trap of believing that comparing Netflix's catalog to new releases is an apples-to-oranges comparison, consider that Netflix <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/netflix-the-monster-thats-eating-hollywood-1490370059">is said to be investing $6bn this year alone</a> on more than 70 original shows. And its original content push isn't just targeting content that would traditionally be distributed on television and cable networks. </p> <p>The company recently struck a deal for a $100m Martin Scorsese-directed gangster flick starring Robert De Niro. The film was originally slated to be produced by Paramount Pictures, but <a href="http://www.indiewire.com/2017/02/martin-scorsese-the-irishman-robert-deniro-netflix-paramount-1201785658/">according to</a> a source that spoke to IndieWire, "Scorsese’s movie is a risky deal, and Paramount is not in the position to take risks."</p> <p>Netflix <a href="https://www.fool.com/investing/general/2017/03/27/100-million-reasons-netflix-is-doubling-down-on-ad.aspx">has also extended its deal</a> with Adam Sandler's Happy Madison Productions that will see the funny man produce four additional comedy films that will debut exclusively on Netflix. While Sandler's first Netflix movies have not received rave reviews, the company says that his last two were the most-watched Netflix originals ever.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5168/netflix.jpg" alt="netflix adam sandler" width="600" height="200"></p> <p>Given the plethora of original content of all kinds that Netflix is adding and making available to subscribers for a monthly fee that is a fraction of the cost of the Hollywood studio's price point for a single video-on-demand purchase, there's a real question as to just how sensible it is for Hollywood studios to risk upending the theater-first model that it has employed for so long.</p> <p>While that model might not be built to last, the seemingly expensive video-on-demand model it's contemplating would appear to be anything but a sure bet and <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/premium-video-on-demand-the-fallout-1490532073">there are substantial risks</a>.</p> <p>Interestingly but perhaps not surprisingly, movie studios aren't the only Hollywood players reportedly considering head-scratching plans. Take for example cable network AMC, which is evaluating the possibility of offering a new subscription service that will allow consumers the ability to stream its content.</p> <p>Other cable networks such as HBO are pursuing direct-to-consumer offerings in response to the phenomenon of cord-cutting, but there's a huge caveat with AMC's: to purchase a subscription, consumers would reportedly need to have access to AMC through an existing cable plan and shell out an extra $5 to $7 a month to stream.</p> <p>As one observer <a href="http://www.avclub.com/article/amc-might-be-developing-very-bizarre-streaming-ser-252735">put it</a>, "this could be the dumbest idea the network has had since it canceled Rubicon back in 2010."</p> <h3>Disruption isn't just about distribution</h3> <p>It's hard to blame Hollywood for taking action to deal with the ongoing disruption wrought by the rise of the internet. But the ways that Hollywood seems to be responding to disruption suggests that it's still in denial about an inconvenient truth: the disruption it faces isn't just about distribution.</p> <p>Yes, consumers are demanding the ability to consume content whenever, wherever and however they like, and video-on-demand and streaming services address this demand. But $30 to $50 video-on-demand offerings and streaming services that require subscribers to pay extra on top of an existing paid cable package ignore the fact that consumer expectations around what and how they pay for content have also changed.</p> <p>In other words, Hollywood can't expect to effectively deal with disruption by addressing distribution but ignoring economics. However, that seems to be precisely what it is doing.</p> <p>Not only is this crazy, it's doomed to disappoint.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:ConferenceEvent/864 2017-03-28T16:45:16+01:00 2017-03-28T16:45:16+01:00 Supercharged: Marketers and Machines <p>Ready to help you uncover all you need to know about AI and how it can transform the way your business works, we bring you… Supercharged: Marketers and Machines. A one day, one-stop-shop, giving you the ultimate snapshot of AI integration within the marketing industry. Hear from brands already implementing it, experts in the field and best of all try out some of the tech!</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3157 2017-03-21T11:04:14+00:00 2017-03-21T11:04:14+00:00 Digital Transformation in Practice <p>Digital Transformation. The buzzword of the moment. Everybody from IBM to the British Government claim to be in the throes of digital transformation. But what is it and what does it mean in practice?</p> <p>This course will cut through the hype and answer a simple question. What does digital mean for how you do business? You will learn how digital has changed consumer behaviour. You will discover what steps you will need to take if your organisation is going to survive in this new business reality.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68885 2017-03-21T09:51:45+00:00 2017-03-21T09:51:45+00:00 SEO ranking factors analysed: The importance of brand relevancy James Perrott <ul> <li>Domain Trust - defined by Majestic </li> <li>Number of referring domains</li> <li>HTTPS vs HTTP</li> <li>Mobile-friendly score</li> <li>Internal links prioritisation</li> <li>Canonical tags</li> <li>Keyword in meta title, h1 and h2 tags</li> <li>Length of on-page content for ranking pages</li> <li>Brand + product term to define relevance for a brand and the product searched for</li> <li>Engagement - average time on site and bounce rate as defined by Alexa.com</li> <li>Engagement of landing pages</li> </ul> <p><strong>The process:</strong> I have collated 100 keywords from five of the most popular online industries to identify which are the best performing websites. Remember, this is only 100 keywords and they are often much broader than this. </p> <p>Once I have identified the top performing websites and have seen what is working at industry level, I am going to dive into the most popular keyword in the industry and run a SERP comparison to identify what splits websites apart in the top 10. Then, in conclusion, we’ll be able to provide some insight as to what you should be focusing on to perform well in your industry.</p> <p>So, to begin...</p> <h3>Insurance</h3> <p>In the insurance sector, if you were to rank in first place for 100 keywords then the maximum traffic would equal 613,874 clicks.</p> <p>This market is now dominated by aggregators due to the nature of people’s searches for insurance related products. Brand loyalty is slowly dwindling within this space, even with brand loyalty being very much at the top of insurance providers’ remarketing. People are after the best price, period. </p> <p>Following a Google Insights report in April 2015 it was concluded that 61% of people perform research before a vehicle insurance purchase, and I think it is fair to roughly extrapolate that across the insurance market as a whole. The report found that only 44% of people bought from the brand they considered initially, but I think this is very apparent in the UK and would be a smaller percentage compared to France where this research was conducted. This helps explain the aggregator dominance and low brand advocacy.</p> <p>The chart below shows how the market looks for this keyword set. To explain the axis:</p> <ul> <li>X = number of ranking keywords</li> <li>Y = estimated monthly clicks</li> </ul> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4641/competitive_landscape_market_leaders.png" alt="" width="700" height="268"></p> <p>A large part of our work when looking at individual markets is to categorise each keyword into a product or offering group. This allows us to then dig into the individual sub-categories and begin to go very granular. </p> <p>Below shows how the 100 keyword set splits into individual categories, the largest clearly being vehicle insurance.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4642/click_distribution_for_insurance.png" alt="" width="700" height="226"></p> <p>After segmenting the market into different categories, we’re able to see that vehicle insurance provides the largest return into overall number of clicks. Vehicle is closely followed by holiday, then home, pet, life and so on.</p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Screen-Shot-2017-03-08-at-12.29.31.png" alt="Keyword Cluster" width="409" height="354"></p> <p>The online insurance market is one of the most hotly contested, and the difference between position one and two for key terms could be worth millions of pounds of revenue. Looking at overall authority within the market share, it’s interesting to see that eight out of the 10 websites have an overall authority above 50.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4643/Domain_Trust_for_insurance.png" alt="" width="700" height="269"></p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Screen-Shot-2017-03-08-at-12.30.25.png" alt="Domain Trust &amp; Linking Domains" width="500"></p> <p>What is really refreshing in this chart is the fact that GoCompare.com does not have the most referring domains, nor the most authoritative domain, yet it leads the insurance market. It is fantastic news; this SERP is clearly showing a move away from link-based ranking metrics - to an extent. </p> <p>GoCompare.com does lead the engagement metrics chart, with an average time on site of 7mins and 26secs and bounce rate of 39.3%. Its average time on site is 30% higher than that of the nearest competitor.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4644/Bounce_Rate_for_Insurance.png" alt="" width="700" height="204"></p> <p>A standout in this graph must be Tesco Bank with a bounce rate of just 15.2%. This is incredible.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4645/time_on_site_for_insurance.png" alt="" width="500"></p> <p>'Car insurance' is the most popular search term within the insurance market, at 550,000 searches per month on average in the UK. Let’s analyse the top 10 websites and how they compare.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4646/Positioning-Table_for_insurance.png" alt="" width="700" height="179"></p> <p>We identified that as part of the overall market analysis, link authority and number of links were not the deciding factors. It does not appear that HTTPS, page speed, internal links or words on the page are deciding factors either. Interestingly, we’re seeing in this SERP that both engagement and brand relevancy to the product are far superior.</p> <p>Looking at the final column in the table above, GoCompare is far more relevant for car insurance than any other brand in the top 10. That even includes Admiral, which is specifically a car insurance brand.</p> <p>The search term ‘gocompare car insurance’ has 110,000 searches on average per month. How much of that is influenced by the term ‘gocompare’ and ‘go compare’ can’t be accounted for, but this, mixed with great engagement, is certainly at play in this SERP. </p> <h3>Mortgages</h3> <p>In this sector the maximum amount of traffic from ranking first for the 100 keywords is 264,332 clicks.</p> <p>This market is now dominated by mortgage lenders as you would expect. Halifax has been slowly growing its online presence over the last year, so it will be interesting to see where it is overly proficient.</p> <p>After using the same methodology as the previous analysis, we’re able to start digging into the data. Halifax.co.uk is by far the market leader in the mortgages space. It receives an estimated 79,734 more visits than HSBC, the second largest. Halifax receives an estimated 59% of all position one clicks within the keyword set we collated.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4893/mortgage_market_leaders.png" alt="" width="750" height="287"></p> <p>When looking at authority and number of links within this space, we can see that Halifax is outperformed by Barclays with an overall authority of 72 and referring domains total of 16,223. This again puts a solid argument together that links aren’t the number one ranking signal within this space. </p> <p>There are some surprises in the authority sphere with Nationwide only having an overall authority of 37 and TSB at 25.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4894/mortgages_Linking-Domains.png" alt="" width="700" height="295"></p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Screen-Shot-2017-03-08-at-12.33.40.png" alt="Linking Domains" width="500"></p> <p>The 'calculator' section of the keyword set has by far the most search volume and estimated clicks associated to it. With 176,026 estimated clicks and 31 keywords, it contributes an enormous amount to the overall market within mortgages.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4895/Estimated-click-by-category_mortgages.png" alt="" width="700" height="272"></p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Screen-Shot-2017-03-08-at-12.34.46.png" alt="Keyword Cluster" width="495" height="291"></p> <p>Due to Halifax having the largest market share by far, I wanted to identify the reason for this domination. It appears that the answer is Halifax’s first position ranking for ‘mortgage calculator’. Ranking first for this keyword has led to the brand reaching an estimated 145,654 clicks and 82.7% market share.</p> <p>This traffic will prove invaluable for a brand that also sells mortgages; it is the best lead generation tool out there for both providing invaluable information and qualifying leads/mortgages that you want to follow up.</p> <p>Below is the split of estimated traffic that Halifax captures:</p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Screen-Shot-2017-03-08-at-12.36.41.png" alt="Category" width="500"></p> <p>It is clear to see that it nearly owns the entirety of the calculator space. However, there are significant gaps in informational content that could also add to Halifax’s purchase funnel. For example, Halifax should provide expert content on the processes for buy-to-let, help-to-buy and first-time-buyer guides. Doing this will eliminate the risk of having all its eggs in one basket with 'mortgage calculator' while providing expert content from a lender, which people reading up on the subject will trust.</p> <p>It currently does this very poorly, but high street lenders such as Nationwide and Natwest do it very well. Having the content very close to the mortgages section has allowed it to rank very well for terms such as ‘first time buyers guide’ etc. This is something Halifax should action sooner rather than later.</p> <p>Having this position one ranking, however, has damaged Halifax’s engagement metrics. The bounce rate for Halifax is 79% and average time on site at a dismal 56 seconds.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4896/Time-on-site_mortgages.png" alt="" width="700" height="204"></p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Screen-Shot-2017-03-08-at-12.37.52.png" alt="Time on Site &amp; Bounce Rate" width="500"></p> <p>After looking at the experience of Halifax’s mortgage calculator, which is cannibalising the average time on site and bounce rate, it becomes slightly clearer why this may be the case.</p> <p>The mortgage summary on the right-hand side automatically populates and does not offer a cross link into Halifax’s mortgage offering. A simple cross link may help keep users on the website once they have discovered out how much they can borrow. Also, the online banking portal which most visitors will be going towards goes onto a separate domain - halifax-online.co.uk</p> <p>Consolidating this into Halifax.co.uk may further help in areas of which Halifax is unaware, at present. Improving these engagement metrics could help improve rankings across the board.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4897/Mortgage_calculator_halifax.png" alt="" width="700" height="535"></p> <p>'Mortgage calculator' is the most popular search term within the insurance market at 550,000 searches per month on average in the UK. Let’s analyse the top 10 websites and see how they fare against one another.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4898/Position-and-Brand_mortgages.png" alt="" width="700" height="385"></p> <p>It’s clear to see that authority and links are not the main ranking factors when it comes to mortgages. Neither are HTTPS, page speed or number of words on the page.</p> <p>Halifax is one of the largest mortgage lenders in the UK and, like insurance, its brand relevancy for mortgages and in particular the mortgage calculator surpasses its rivals. With a brand plus keyword search volume total of 27,100, it’s 4,900 higher than the BBC which has an absolutely archaic page for its mortgage calculator that is not mobile-friendly and does not have a self-referring canonical tag.</p> <p>If this BBC page was updated, I would have it as a close contender to Halifax for this key term.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4899/BBC_mortgage.png" alt="" width="448" height="519"></p> <h3>Jewellery</h3> <p>In the jewellery sector, if you were to rank in first place for 100 keywords then the maximum traffic would equal 370,564 clicks. This market is now dominated by bricks and mortar stores as you would expect. </p> <p>However, there was an anomaly present within the data and that was Stevenstone.co.uk. Stevenstone ranks first for ‘engagement rings’, but after the analysis was run I concluded that it was wrongly ranking for this term, and did not want to skew the data or arrive at wrongful conclusions.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4902/Market-Leaders_jewellery.png" alt="" width="700" height="268"></p> <p>H Samuel leads the market that is largely dominated by brands on the high street. This is a much more closely contested market than others analysed so far, with the difference in market leader being only 3.9% market share and 25,548 estimated clicks.</p> <p>I believe this is down to H Samuel’s breadth in product and keyword ranking. H Samuel ranks for 97% of the keyword set (97 keywords), whereas the next is Ernest Jones with 71 keywords. With a slightly different keyword set this could be a different outcome, but for this exercise, H Samuel leads the way.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4903/Doman-trust_jewels.png" alt="" width="700" height="269"></p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Screen-Shot-2017-03-08-at-13.21.41.png" alt="Domain Trust &amp; Linking Domains" width="500"></p> <p>At first glance, authority and number of referring domains for each website do not stand out as a definitive ranking signal. </p> <p>Argos has far superior authority and number of domains but it is not jewellery-specific. But from the jewellery-specific websites, H Samuel is further ahead in regards to both.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4906/Time-on-Site_jewels.png" alt="" width="700" height="204"></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4907/chart_2.png" alt="" width="500"></p> <p>Engagement is a similar story. Argos performs better than the rest; however H Samuel does so in regards to the jewellers. The average time on site for H Samuel is just under a minute higher than the others, a clear sign of product breadth and website quality as the bounce rate remains low.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4909/CLick-distribution-by-category_jewels.png" alt="" width="700" height="226"></p> <p>Engagement rings is the most popular search term (behind branded Apple watch term at 301,000 searches) within the jewellery market at 201,000 searches per month on average in the UK. Ranking first for this alone can draw in an estimated 48,501 clicks each month.</p> <p>Let’s analyse the top 10 websites and how they fare against one another.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4911/Positioning-3_jewels.png" alt="" width="700" height="312"></p> <p>Ignoring Stevenstone, we can see that H Samuel does not have the largest number of links, nor the strongest authority. There is no HTTPS, it ranks as mediocre in page speed, there is no self-referring canonical and it has a low level of internal links. </p> <p>However, it does have the second highest number of brand plus keyword searches, again proving brand relevancy is playing a factor. We also know of H Samuel as a high street retailer with huge jewellery relevancy, but we cannot place a signal on this.</p> <p>One thing I did notice is that since the launch of the new website Google is struggling with the ranking page as '/diamonds' is ranking but it has set up a canonical to http://www.hsamuel.co.uk/webstore/engagement.cdo</p> <p>Fixing this relevancy issue may help H Samuel overcome the dark horse, Stevenstone.</p> <h3>Fashion</h3> <p>In the fashion sector, if you were to rank in first place for our 100 keywords then the maximum traffic would equal 1,220,592 clicks.</p> <p>This market is by far the largest in this comparison data set. It is dominated by ASOS but significant market share is being taken away by the likes of Boohoo, Missguided and House of Fraser. This keyword set focused across both male (M) and female (W) keywords and if it was to be gender-specific, particular brands would be more prominent over one another.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4913/Fashion-Comptitor-Landscape_fashion.png" alt="" width="700" height="267"></p> <p>Looking at this broad, generic keyword set, we can see that ASOS reigns supreme. However, significant market share is beginning to be taken away by brands such as:</p> <ul> <li>Boohoo</li> <li>Missguided</li> <li>Prettylittlething</li> <li>Zalando</li> </ul> <p>The first three are really rising and progressing with their marketing activities, whilst Zalando is the ASOS of Europe which has come to the UK with a bang. Since launching its site with great SEO optimisation, Zalando has gone from strength-to-strength.</p> <p>ASOS currently captures an estimated 586,719 clicks per month with 48.1% overall market share. ASOS has so many pages ranking for these keywords that the company ranks for 106.1% of the keywords, meaning it double, triple, and quadruples up on ranking URLs for some keywords.</p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Screen-Shot-2017-03-08-at-13.29.38.png" alt="Competitive Landscape Market Leaders Fashion" width="500"></p> <p>Boohoo is second in the market with 327,350 estimated clicks and 26.8% of the market, but only ranks for 75.5% of the keyword set. This suggests the number could be much higher if it ranked for the other 24.5% of the keyword set.</p> <p>When looking at the authority and number of referring domains that go into each of the websites, ASOS leads the market. ASOS has more than three times the number of links of competitors, which is more than contributing to its overall authority of 75. This is the first time I’ve seen this in the analysis so far.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4916/Linking-Domains_fashion.png" alt="" width="700" height="269"></p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Screen-Shot-2017-03-08-at-13.31.09.png" alt="Linking Domains" width="500"></p> <p>ASOS excels yet again in engagement; 27% bounce rate with an average time on site of over 10 minutes - that’s some serious browsing and adding-items-to-basket time!</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4918/Time-on-site_fashion.png" alt="" width="700" height="204"></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4919/fashion_chart.png" alt="" width="500" height="156"></p> <p>After categorising the keyword data, which I split into both men’s and women’s, there was a clear winner for where the most estimated clicks lay; dresses. Due to the vast amount of categories that online fashion retailers have, the chart below represents a shrunken-down number of categories to those that have the most potential.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4920/Click-distribution-by-cat_fashion.png" alt="" width="700" height="391"></p> <p>Dresses is the most popular search term within the fashion market at 201,000 searches per month on average in the UK. It was jointly most popular with prom dresses, which also receives 201,000 searches on average per month. Due to that being an average, which will have a huge seasonal spike when proms happen, let’s analyse the top 10 websites and how they fare against one another.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4921/Positioning-table_fashion.png" alt="" width="700" height="291"></p> <p>After all the market domination by ASOS, it is outperformed by five other brands in this SERP.</p> <p>The top websites have a very similar structure on-page with hyperlinks and internal links pointing you to the other types of dresses, which I find very useful. The one thing that the top websites do have that ASOS doesn’t and the data doesn’t show, is that they are mainly female-specific websites, which may establish a stronger relevancy towards dresses.</p> <p>Prettylittlething purely stocks female clothing and has had a huge push with marketing recently. Boohoo has only just recently launched a male range, Missguided is female only, New Look has a limited male stock, Monsoon is female only - and then you have ASOS.</p> <p>Again, we can’t draw any strong conclusions but it’s interesting to theorise. Perhaps on this occasion ASOS’s breadth of product and parameter/ugly URL has let it down.</p> <h3>Travel</h3> <p>In the travel sector, if you were to rank in first place for our 100 keywords then the maximum traffic would equal 504,247 clicks.</p> <p>The market leader in this space is onthebeach.co.uk with 178,478 estimated clicks and 35.4% market share for the keyword set I collated. Being market leader with only 58% keyword coverage suggests it ranks particularly well for some generic terms.</p> <p>Closely following OnTheBeach are Last Minute and Skyscanner.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4922/Comp-landscape_travel.png" alt="" width="700" height="268"></p> <p>OnTheBeach has really low overall authority and number of referring domains, showing once again that this is not an important ranking factor within this niche. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4923/Linking-Domains_travel.png" alt="" width="700" height="229"></p> <p>It is significantly outperformed by brands such as Lastminute, Skyscanner, Thomson and EasyJet.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4924/travel_chart.png" alt="" width="500" height="158"></p> <p>OnTheBeach has the second highest average time on site at 6mins 20secs with a much smaller product offering than Thomson. All holiday sites within this analysis have good bounce rates, but this may be more down to the nature of the market rather than poor experience. </p> <p>When searching for holidays, we are very patient people. We like to explore what is available to us on each different website to ensure we’re not missing an offer or resort.</p> <p>Due to the rise in mobile, the dwell time is much larger, as people are in the research phase. </p> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="https://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Time-on-site-4.png" alt="Time on Site &amp; Bounce Rate" width="1163" height="322"></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4925/travel_chart_2.png" alt="" width="500" height="154"></p> <p>Cheap holidays is the most popular search term within the holiday market at 550,000 searches per month on average in the UK. Let’s analyse the top 10 websites and how they fare against one another.</p> <p>OnTheBeach has the market majority, but Thomson in this case leads on the most searched-for term. When analysing what it excels in, it does not have the largest number of referring domains, authority, internal links or number of words on the page. </p> <p>However, it does lead the market in regards to relevancy with the highest number of searches for ‘brand plus keyword’; in this case being ‘thomson cheap holidays’ with 390 searches on average per month.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4926/Pos-Brand_travel.png" alt="" width="700" height="267"></p> <h3>In conclusion...</h3> <p>Below are the five brands and URLs that capture the UK’s most competitive search terms in their relevant niche:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4927/overall_summary.png" alt="" width="700" height="169"></p> <p>Below are some averages and key takeaways that this analysis has provided me with:</p> <ul> <li>Authority is not the most important signal - average trust = 40.2</li> <li>Number of referring domains is not the most important signal - average linking root domains of 9,171 per domain.</li> <li>HTTPS is not a definitive ranking signal to push those out of the top positions if they remain on HTTP. I was a firm believer in this and from communication Google has produced, I believe I’m not the only one. However, these websites that remain on HTTP and lead the most competitive SERPs may still excel in other areas that make this small HTTPS ranking signal obsolete. But after looking at this analysis HTTP &gt; HTTPS.</li> <li>You must be mobile-friendly. After running each ranking URL through the test, they were all mobile-friendly. Just being mobile-friendly isn’t enough now, each brand is pushing the limits with ensuring their website is the best mobile site, especially with the looming <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68425-google-to-create-separate-mobile-index-what-you-need-to-know/">mobile-first index</a>. The BBC mortgage calculator page is a great example of a page that has to be made mobile-friendly.</li> <li>Page speed is important, but not a deal breaker unless painfully slow.</li> <li>Average internal links was seven per URL, which isn’t impressive or advisable. I’d strongly recommend that it should be above this.</li> <li>Self-referring canonical on the URLs is a must.</li> <li>Keywords in meta title and following header tags is a must: I did not come across one URL that didn’t follow this practice. </li> <li>On-page content is important, as is faceted navigation. Average word count on page is 471 and the fashion websites were one to follow from an internal linking perspective at category level. </li> </ul> <p>The stand out factor for me throughout this entire piece was the weight that seemed to be conveniently placed on average 'brand plus keyword' search volume. Three out of the five market leaders had weaker metrics across the board, bar this - in which they were the best performers. The average brand plus keyword search volume is 38,478.</p> <p>This shows to me that sometimes you may excel in every ranking signal, but if your brand is not relevant to the product in the customer’s eyes then it isn’t in Google’s. This shows the importance of building brands and not placing sole digital marketing strategies on link and authority acquisition.</p> <p><strong><em>To learn more on this topic, check out these resources:</em></strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/topics/search-marketing/"><em>Search Marketing Training</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/seo-best-practice-guide/"><em>Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Best Practice Guide</em></a></li> </ul> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68912 2017-03-20T14:23:51+00:00 2017-03-20T14:23:51+00:00 About.com rebrands with new standalone sites to target different interests Nikki Gilliland <p>So, what’s behind the change? Here’s a bit more on the story, as well as why the move has so far proved successful.</p> <h3>New sites for a new user experience</h3> <p>About.com first launched in 1996 as a website featuring expert advice and information on a wide range of topics. While the formula proved to be successful for a number of years, the brand was reportedly floundering in the face of competing lifestyle publishers.</p> <p>Now separating its content into separate verticals, it is aiming to combine the authority of the former site with a more accessible and simple design. In other words, each site is designed to offer a user experience that complements the topic.</p> <p>For example, when it comes to the subject of money, a user might be more likely to search for a specific article rather than browse through categories. This is reflected in the direct nature of <a href="https://www.thebalance.com/">The Balance’s</a> main menu – About.com’s new financial site – which asks the user what exactly it is they’re looking to solve. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4827/The_Balance.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="372"></p> <p>On the other hand, someone interested in lifestyle content such as redecoration or food might be more open to discovery, as well as other mediums like video or photo galleries.</p> <p>The Spruce’s <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68765-why-brands-should-be-making-more-use-of-pinterest/" target="_blank">Pinterest</a>-like design is highly effective for encouraging this less structured user experience. Content is separated into loosely labelled categories like ‘Must Reads for Pet Owners’ – designed to catch attention more than anything else - while each page contains a multitude of related articles.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4826/The_Spruce.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="389"></p> <p>Similarly, it is clear that The Spruce is designed to be inspirational as opposed to merely functional – something that was evidently missing from home articles on About.com.</p> <p>Another aim of the About.com rebrand appears to be to create spaces that users feel comfortable in, and removing the danger of feeling overwhelmed or overloaded with content.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/4828/About.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="385"></p> <p>With many visitors landing on the site from social media or links on other sites, clarity over subject matter and navigation is also key – factors that each new site clearly strives to offer.</p> <h3>A positive response</h3> <p>So, how have users responded to the new sites? According to reports, The Spruce, The Balance and Lifewire all rank as top 10 websites in their respective sectors, all drawing in between 6m-10m unique users in the US each month. </p> <p>Similarly, Verywell – the new health site -  is seeing a clickthrough rate three times higher than its former incarnation on About.com.</p> <p>While <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65455-why-you-need-an-evergreen-content-strategy/">evergreen content</a> means that the sites are still getting traffic from existing links, the rebrand does appear to encouraging greater traffic. </p> <p>What’s more, it is likely that the new sites will also encourage greater activity on social in the form of shares and user engagement. While About.com had both scope and notoriety, its size was becoming its downfall, with articles becoming lost and users failing to make any real connection to the overall brand.</p> <p>With even more vertical brands to launch soon, the next being travel site TripSavvy, About.com looks set to change its former reputation for good.</p> <p><em><strong>Related reading:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63099-five-tips-for-a-successful-rebrand/" target="_blank">Five tips for a successful rebrand</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64991-five-ingenious-marketing-rebrands-that-changed-society/" target="_blank">Five ingenious marketing rebrands that changed society</a></em></li> </ul>